Running backs can’t score fantasy points if they aren’t on the field, so this weekly article will provide impressions by analyzing snap counts, percentages, and touches. Here we go with the Week 7 snap counts and opportunities for running backs.
Fantasy football is all about opportunity, and the NFL players who have higher snap counts have a higher probability of scoring more fantasy points. I provide fantasy football snap counts here with some context and impressions to help you make fantasy transactions and gain an edge on your competition. Looking at context will involve analyzing carries and targets and whether running backs were able to convert opportunity to yards gained. Be sure to also read TFA’s Target Analysis article to see the full picture of all the week’s action.
Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay were on BYE during week 7, so you won’t find them in the report below.
As you have noticed, this article is getting a bit repetitive. As such, I am going to focus on the biggest changes and ignore consistency, unless consistency is notable. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@NateHenryFF) for instant reactions to running back usage!
Fantasy Football Snap Counts and Reactions
David Johnson played the first few snaps, got the first carry, and then either re-aggravated the injury or decided he couldn’t go. Either way, it was the Chase Edmonds show after that, as he logged huge snap counts and posted spectacular efficiency. This development was frustrating for fantasy owners who plugged DJ into their starting lineup after seeing his activation. More concerning, the Cardinals worked out both Spencer Ware and Jay Ajayi on Monday. Reading the tea leaves, this franchise activity does not bode well for David Johnson’s health. It’s possible that the Cardinals simply need depth, but I’d be worried about Johnson’s longer term prospects. For now, Chase Edmonds is the #1 waiver priority leading up to Week 8. *UPDATE: Arizona has signed Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner.
Not much actionable data here because Devonta Freeman was ejected for throwing a punch and Ito Smith was carted off the field. Brian Hill is Ito Smith’s backup and can be added in desperation situations. My guess is that Hill likely takes over Smith’s snap counts because the Falcons do not want to give Freeman heavy snaps. Just remember that if you do pick up Hill, Atlanta’s OL is awful, and Matt Ryan might be hurt. The Falcons are not a high ceiling rushing offense anymore.
Ingram went back to 50% snap counts in a close game. That said, no back was particularly efficient (but Lamar Jackson was…). The bigger concern for Mark Ingram is the lack of goal-line work. Last week, Gus Edwards got 3 of 4 carries near the goal-line (Ingram got the fourth), and this week, Edwards received the only one. Clearly, Ingram over-performed in the first half of the year, and I hope you moved on from him because that would have been the savvy play.
Miami played their hearts out, only to lose, and the game-script that we expected didn’t happen. More specifically, I expected a blow-out with Miami being unable to move the ball in any meaningful way against a tough Buffalo defense. Instead, Fitzmagic scored a few touchdowns and scared every survivor league player half-to-death. As a result, the Bills allocated only 19 RB carries between their two fantasy-relevant RBs. The team may have been easing Singletary back into the mix, especially considering that he ran only 12 routes (compared to 38 in Week 1). But, there is good news here. T.J. Yeldon wasn’t active for the game, so clearly the Bills believe that Singletary, or the combination of Gore and Singletary, can handle the pass-catching back role. Better days are ahead for Singletary who looked electric in Week 1.
These opportunity numbers are not a typo. As a team, the Bears only ran the ball 7 times, and two of those carries were by receivers (Cordarrelle Patterson and Anthony Miller). While game script certainly played a role in those noisy numbers, I don’t know how any coach can completely abandon the run when Mitch Trubisky is throwing the ball. Given these floor numbers, Montgomery belongs on your bench. Meanwhile, Cohen’s 12 targets sure look interesting, until you realize that 12 targets resulted in 19 (!!!) total receiving yards. The Saints are a good defense, but more importantly, the Bears are a bad offense. I really don’t know how you can start any Bear other than Allen Robinson at this point.
Similar to the Bears, the Bengals have an awful offense. Their offensive line was decimated in the preseason and Mixon cannot find running lanes. Also, 54% snap share is actually about his season average. Even ignoring the putrid efficiency, Mixon isn’t receiving the volume necessary to start him with confidence. I told you last week to try and sell Mixon on name recognition. I hope you listened because that door is closed now.
Pollard dug into Elliott’s typical 85%+ snap counts this week because the Cowboys dominated the Eagles. Not a reason for concern.
Royce Freeman is officially the back that the Broncos prefer in the passing game. Also, he also received a carry at the 5 yard line, which means he got a goal line touch along with 4 more targets than Lindsay. Lindsay’s inability to run efficiently against a terrible Chiefs run defense is extremely surprising, and he’ll be hard pressed in the future to put up solid fantasy numbers when he isn’t receiving high-value touches. I’m still not starting either, but if you have to choose, you may want to pick Royce.
Kerryon Johnson hurt his knee in this game and appears to be out for an extended period of time. The Lions will time-share this backfield to replace him, but Ty Johnson is the true “Kerryon replacement”. McKissic still looks pretty good, and Darrell Bevell has quite a few plays scripted just for him, so both backs are worth picking up. That said, the Lions’ passing game is electric, as they torched the Vikings passing defense. Without Kerryon, the passing game will be the Lions’ crutch. Indeed, in this game alone, the Lions almost exclusively passed at the goal-line without Johnson as the goal-line back. Ty Johnson won’t win you any weeks, but he might help fill a flex spot for a couple of weeks.
|Green Bay||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Jones dominated the touches, but this backfield remains close to a 50-50 split. I really don’t like relying on a backfield that is so “hot-hand” dependent, but this is a strong offense. Due to Aaron Rodgers presence, both backs can be started.
Game script dictated snap counts in Houston for the seventh straight week. It was nice to see Duke get a bit more work, but you must consider game script anytime you think about starting a Texans RB. Vegas lines can help you with that consideration.
Houston sold out to stop the run and dared Brissett to beat them, which he did. Even in a game where Mack faced 8-9 men in the box with extreme regularity, he still saw 18 carries. You love the workload for Mack. Hopefully, teams respect Brissett more as a passer after his 4 touchdown game which would open up more lanes for Marlon Mack.
Fournette has the most rushing yards in the NFL since Week 2. Absolute Monster.
|Kansas City||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
The KC backfield is becoming a bit more clear, as LeSean McCoy has apparently asserted himself as the lead-RB. However, the second we get a bit more clarity, the team loses its one-in-a-lifetime QB for some time. Matt Moore is not the worst backup in the world and the team is still full of talent, so the Chiefs should still be able to move the ball. It’s entirely possible that McCoy becomes a focal point of the offense starting their third-string QB, but do you really want to invest in a team starting its third-string QB? This backfield still feels like a wait-and-see to me.
|LA Chargers||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Ekeler did all of his damage through the passing game. I told you to expect that he’d remain involved, and he has especially as a receiver. Keep plugging in Ekeler. Melvin Gordon, on the other hand, does not look dynamic. He cost the Chargers the game by fumbling on the 1-foot line. He also had two chances to score from the 1-foot line, but failed both times. The Chargers look terrible, the OL looks lost without Pouncey running the show, and Gordon lacks burst. However, 16 carries and 3 targets is elite usage. I’ve told you to trust usage, and I don’t think Gordon completely fell off a cliff during his hold-out. I think better days are ahead, but not RB1 days. Ekeler is stealing passing game work from Gordon, which lowers his upside significantly.
|LA Rams||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Gurley’s return to action was tempered in terms of snap counts. His 61% Week 7 snap share aligns more with Weeks 1-3 than they do Weeks 4-5, where he basically received all the snaps. The reasons for the lowered snap counts are unknown; they could result from Henderson looking dynamic, worry about Gurley’s health, or something else. Either way, he got a lot of carries, and not a ton of passing work. Henderson is worth a stash based on the eye test, but who knows whether he will get work when Malcolm Brown returns? Gurley continues to be fine.
Your new Dolphins starting RB: Mark Walton. He looked decent, actually, so he could be worth a pick-up in the right situation. Hold Drake because trade talks are apparently accelerating.
Dalvin Cook continues to dominate. I am still kicking myself for drafting Gurley over him.
|New England||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Sony Michel turned 19 carries into 3 TDs against a decent Jets Defense. His only catch went for -8 yards, but we still like to see targets going his way, regardless of whether they turn into long gains. All that matters is the consistent, near 20-touch workload for Michel, which makes him startable every week. Brandon Bolden continues to be annoying, but whatever, at least he didn’t steal goal-line work. Rex Burkhead didn’t play, so we are still in the dark about how his presence affects other workloads, but I’d guess that he affects James White’s 54% snap counts more than anything else.
|New Orleans||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Without Kamara, the Saints relied heavily on Murray, and he delivered against the Bears, who are suddenly terrible against the run (go figure!). This is important data only if Kamara is out again.
|NY Giants||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Barkley returned and dominated snaps. No surprises here.
|NY Jets||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Consistent numbers for the Jets as well. Bell delivered decent efficiency against the vaunted Pats defense.
Jacobs is running strong and seeing his usage increase. In the past three weeks, he’s had 17, 26, and 21 carries. While I wish his snap counts were higher, his usage is right in-line with a high-RB2.
Jordan Howard is the starter in this backfield, but that doesn’t mean much. Philly was losing for most of this game, so they needed more snaps from their pass-catching back: Miles Sanders. As a result, he ran a route on 61% of passing plays. He’s a league leader in air yards for an RB, but he just isn’t converting much. In fact, Boston Scott has out-carried Sanders for two straight weeks. Jordan Howard needs TDs to provide value for fantasy owners. Hopefully, the Eagles’ low offensive output in Week 7 won’t start a trend.
Chris Carson is absolutely dominating snap counts now that he isn’t fumbling every time he touches the ball. In fact, he’s rendered Rashaad Penny completely irrelevant (3% snap share!). If you are holding Penny, understand he’s only going to have value if Carson gets hurt. Penny owners might obtain the most value by trying to sell him to the Carson owner.
|San Francisco||Snaps||+/-||Carries||Targets||Total Yards|
Ignore all efficiency numbers from this game, considering that it was played in the middle of a monsoon. As such, snap counts are the only numbers with any relevance here. Coleman is the clear leader, but his numbers were boosted slightly by Breida sitting out quite a few snaps clearing the concussion protocol. Wilson played instead of Mostert, which was likely weather-related.
Henry dominated in a tight game against the Chargers. This bodes really well for Henry’s future prospects. Derrick Henry moves into the “buy” category for me if he’s going to get significant snap counts and usage in neutral games. Tannehill looked far better than Mariota, so this also boosts Henry’s value. I was wrong about Tannehill’s impact, so I will take that L.
Again, ignore efficiency considering the weather conditions. That said, Callahan seems intent on giving Peterson high snap counts and opportunity. I wouldn’t buy, but I wouldn’t sell him either.
- Chase Edmonds is the top waiver priority leading up to Week 8. Arizona’s recent attempts to sign a free agent running back (Ware, Ajayi) suggest that David Johnson is not in full health.
- Better days are ahead for Devin Singletary; the biggest factor suggesting this positive outlook is that T.J. Yeldon was inactive in view of the return of Singletary.
- Ty Johnson is the Kerryon Johnson replacement, but McKissic will remain heavily involved; neither back will win you any weeks.
- McCoy seems to be the new focal point of the Chiefs backfield, but with Mahomes injured, his ceiling is much lower. If you believe Mahomes’ injury will be short-term and you believe in McCoy, now is a great time to buy.
- Melvin Gordon is not elite anymore, and Ekeler’s emergence has eaten into Gordon’s best asset: his pass catching ability. Gordon still has strong usage numbers, which will eventually yield fantasy points. He’s relegated to low-end RB2 status; meanwhile Ekeler is upgraded to RB2 status.
- The Rams lowered Todd Gurley’s snap counts more in line with his 66% counts from Weeks 1-3. Could be precautionary or could be the emergence of Darrell Henderson. Time will tell.
- When Kamara misses time, Latavius Murray is an RB1.
- Rashaad Penny is completely fantasy irrelevant and demoted to handcuff status.
- Derrick Henry saw massive work in a neutral game script. Tennessee was never really behind, so take it with a grain of salt (data has indicated that Henry is worthless only in negative game scripts). Ryan Tannehill improved Henry’s efficiency and the Titans’ offense in general. Henry is a buy for me.